Fire and Life Safety in Rural Areas

Integrated Fire SystemsFire & Life Safety Updates

How to Protect Your Barns and Chicken Coops Against Fire

Rural areas, barns, and chicken coops are three areas where fires can start and spread extremely quickly. Seeing as there is so much land out in these areas it can be difficult for fires to be extinguished quickly. If you live in a rural area, or have a barn or a chicken coop on your property, it is important that you know how to protect yourself against fire.

Rural Areas

Rural areas are at a high risk of fire because of “the distance between communities and between residents within those communities”. This creates a challenge for fire departments to reach these rural fires in a timely manner. Because of this challenge there is a high rate of fire deaths in rural areas.

Rural areas also have a lot to lose to fire. If crops, barns, or chicken coops burn down there will be an extreme economic impact on the locals. It is important for everyone working and living in these areas to always have fire safety in mind.

NFPA reports that some common fire problems in rural areas are:

  • Fixed heaters
  • Space heaters
  • Wood stoves
  • Damaged electrical equipment

Many of these old homes and barns in rural areas also do not have the proper fire and life safety equipment. Without this equipment there is an even greater risk for fire to destory land and lives.

Barns

Barns are common buildings in rural and not so rural areas. They can be found on many different types of properties and can range from big commercial buildings to small dilapidated buildings. Because of the wide range of types of barns, there is a range of safety equipment that barns need. NFPA recommends that all barns have ABC-type fire extinguishers near every exit and within 50 feet from any point in the barn, a fire alarm system, a fire sprinkler system, and a carbon monoxide detection system. But, it is important to check with your local building codes to determine what kind of fire and life safety equipment is required in in your area.

Along with the fire and life safety equipment needed to help protect your barn against fire, there are steps that you should take to help protect your barn on a daily basis. NFPA recommends the following to help reduce risk of loss of your barns, outbuildings, and their inhabitants:

  • Keep heat lamps and space heaters a safe distance away from anything that can catch on fire.
  • Place heaters on sturdy surfaces that cannot tip over.
  • All electrical equipment should be labeled for agricultural or commercial use.
  • Make sure all wiring is free from damage.
  • Do not use extension cords in barns.
  • Lightbulbs should have protective covers to shield them from dust, moisture, and breakage.
  • Dust and cobwebs need to be cleared from lights and electrical outlets.
  • Store oily rags in a closed, metal container away from heat.
  • Feed, hay, straw, and flammable liquids need to be stored away from the main barn.
  • All barns should be smoke free environments
  • Clearly mark all exits and keep pathways clear.
  • Fire drills need to be held frequently with everyone who uses the barn or outbuildings.
  • All workers must have training to use fire extinguishers.
  • Everyone that uses the barn needs to know that personal safety is the number one priority if a fire breaks out.
  • Hazard checks must take place on a set schedule.
Chicken Coops

Chicken coops have many of the same fire and life safety requirements that barns have. But, since many people (not just farmers) have chicken coops there is a higher chance for chicken coop fires to affect a more diverse set of people. NFPA recommends that you do the following to ensure the safety of your chickens, your coop, and yourself:

  • Properly secure heaters so chickens cannot knock them over.
  • Keep heat lamps and space heaters a safe distance away from anything that can catch on fire.
  • Place heaters on sturdy surfaces that cannot tip over.
  • All electrical equipment should be labeled for agricultural or commercial use.
  • Make sure all wiring is free from damage.
  • Do not use extension cords in chicken coops.
  • Lightbulbs should have protective covers to shield them from dust, moisture, and breakage.
  • Dust and cobwebs need to be cleared from lights and electrical outlets.

No matter if you are a rural farmer with a barn or a suburban family with a chicken coop it is important that you take all of the necessary steps to protect yourself and your property against fire.

-The IFS Team